While Milan has long been a hotspot for travelers venturing to northern Italy in search of fashion, design, and culture, Turin—Italy’s fourth largest city, located just 45-minutes from Milan by train—has somehow remained blithely under wraps. It doesn’t take long after arriving in the Piedmontese capital to discover its inimitable elegance. Baroque architecture resembling that of Paris or Vienna houses the myriad of historic museums and galleries, while slashes of snow-capped Alpine mountains are visible from the grand squares and cobbled streets, all bustling with old cafes and restaurants serving traditional Piedmontese dishes. Stay long enough and you’ll find that Turin’s unique blend of art, culture, and quality food runs in the city’s blood—and serves as a promising indication that a new era as a tourist hotspot is firmly on the horizon.
Below, a guide to Turin.
Where to Stay
Turin’s limited selection of upscale hotels is evidence of its relative lack of tourism, for while there is no shortage of places to stay, big hotel groups and buzzy new design hotels haven’t yet set their sights on the city. Grand Hotel Sitea and Royal Palace Hotel are the best high-end stays, and while they remain ripe for refurbishment, their central location and guarantee of five-star hospitality make them the ideal launchpad for luxury travelers.
The most charming boutique hotel in Turin is the family-run Hotel Victoria Torino, situated on a cobblestone street in the heart of the city’s historic center. The Victorian-style rooms feature antique period furniture and beds outfitted in liberty print canopies. If you prefer sleek modern spaces, meanwhile, book a room at B&B Via Stampatori or Hotel Opera35 Suite and Studio, both optimally located in the city center.
For a more local experience, book a characterful Airbnb run by a superhost, like this tastefully minimalist architect’s house in the lively Vanchiglia district or this charming apartment with a balcony overlooking the Quadrilatero Romano district. In the same neighborhood, you’ll find this luxury historical apartment with exposed wood beams and chandeliers—the perfect base to enjoy a subtle taste of the city’s old-world decadence.
Where to Eat
Turin is a culinary capital in its own right, where lunch is an elegant event and meals come with the promise of quality Piedmontese traditions and plenty of the region’s local ingredients. The one thing to know about traditional Piedmontese meals? You better come with a big appetite. While other Italian regions might serve a light selection of antipasti, or appetizers, for the Piedmontese, antipasti are often the main event. Meals begin with an assortment of at least three to five plates, like vitello tonnato, one of the region’s most famous dishes, followed by a traditional assortment of hearty meat and pasta dishes, from agnolotti (meat ravioli), to risotto al barolo (braised beef risotto), to rice and pasta dishes with the famous tartufo d’Alba in the fall.
If you want to indulge in traditional Piedmontese dishes while dining among locals in a casual atmosphere, visit Ristorante Da Mauro and Pastificio Defilippis for the best agnolotti and Ristorante Consorzio for the finanziera stew. Trattoria Bar Coco’s is another unassuming local favorite, where traditional fare like vitello tonnato and pasta e fagioli are the standouts. One of the most popular eateries in Turin is Scannabue, deemed Bib Gourmand on the Michelin guide for its high-quality ingredients and good value. Come for lunch, order anything and you’ll surely get your money’s worth.
For a less traditional dining experience, head to Magazzino 52, a wine shop and restaurant, which serves innovative interpretations of traditional Piedmontese dishes. As it’s a small space and a relatively sceney spot for Turin, it’s best to book ahead. If you prefer a quick lunch, as opposed to a sit-down restaurant, visit beloved bakery Perino Vesco for pizza and focaccia or Pastificio Baretti di Ugazio Giovanni, a pasta shop, serving a wide variety of traditional Piedmontese pasta dishes, which you can select at the counter and eat on the spot. When you’re ready for dessert, you’re in luck; Piedmont is Italy’s leader in chocolate production and Baratti & Milano is the oldest and best confectionery to satisfy your sweet tooth.
What to Do
Museo Casa Mollino, Italian architect Carlo Mollino’s former apartment located on the first floor of Villa Avondo, regularly lures the fashion crowd from Milan to Turin for a day trip. The apartment features all of the original furnishings designed and chosen by the celebrated mid-century designer and has been arranged to illustrate its original setting, offering a comprehensive look into Mollino’s professional and creative vision.
Stay in Turin a while longer and you’ll uncover the art and culture scene that brews beneath its surface. Historic museums set within ornate palazzos occupy much of the city, such as Palazzo Madama, Turin’s municipal museum of ancient art, and Palazzo Reale di Torino, a 16th-century palace built for the House of Savoy. The city’s rich historical landmarks also double as centers for the modern art community that’s beginning to flourish here. Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli is an art gallery housed on the top floor of the Lingotto building, formerly the Fiat factory, which was founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli. Fiat’s historic test track, Pista 500 can be found on the roof of the building as an exhibition space for rotating artistic installations. Another ode to Turin’s rich automotive history is Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile, an automobile museum that hosts a rare collection of over 200 original cars of 80 brands from around the world.
Other notable contemporary art spaces include Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, a non-profit contemporary art space founded by the titular art collector, and Castello di Rivoli, a contemporary art museum featuring works from the 1960s to present-day, and set in a 17th-century castle. Fondazione Merz is set in a former heating plant from the 1930s and features the collaborative work of husband-and-wife artist duo, Mario and Marisa Merz. Finally, if you have more time (and room in your stomach), take a day trip to Alba. One hour away by train, Piedmont’s culinary mecca—known for its white truffles—is also the capital of one of Italy’s leading wine regions.